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8 Ways Having Straight Teeth Changes Your Life

8 Ways Having Straight Teeth Changes Your Life (Really!)

By Dental Care, Orthodontics No Comments

Think straight teeth are just a ticket to a gorgeous smile? There’s so much more to it than that! The benefits of orthodontic treatment are powerful and wide-ranging.

In this post, the team at Richard Chan Orthodontics will cover some of the ways having straight teeth and a strong bite can positively impact your life.

1. Enhanced Confidence

As an orthodontist in Bothell, Monroe and Mill Creek, WA and Juneau, AK, there’s nothing Dr. Richard Chan loves more than seeing the confidence his patients gain from treatment. Having a smile you love provides a huge boost in self-esteem that carries over into all areas of your life, including your relationships, academics and career.

2. Easier Chewing and Better Digestion

One of the health benefits of braces and Invisalign® treatment is easier chewing. When designing your new smile, Dr. Chan accounts for your entire chewing system, including your lips, teeth, tongue, jaw, chewing muscles and temporomandibular joints (TMJ), With these interrelated structures properly aligned, you can chew all types of food without discomfort or dysfunction. This helps you get the vitamins and minerals you need.

Beyond that, effective chewing is an integral component of the digestive process. According to research, breaking down foods efficiently leads to better digestion and absorption of nutrients.

3. Better Oral Health

Straightening teeth makes them easier to clean. Crowded, crooked teeth and/or gaps between the teeth create nooks and crannies where food debris, plaque and bacteria can hide, increasing your risk of tooth decay and gum disease.

Certain types of malocclusion (improper bite) also put undue pressure on the teeth and gums and cause the enamel to wear down. This too can make you more susceptible to damage, cavities and periodontal disease.

4. Clearer Speech

Misaligned teeth and jaws can contribute to speech difficulties, including lisps, a whistling noise and difficulty producing certain speech sounds. In some cases, orthodontic treatment can improve speech disorders by creating the right conditions for proper airflow and tongue movement. Being able to communicate clearly and confidently is an asset professionally and socially.

5. Fewer Dental Issues for Lifelong Savings

As we said above, straight teeth are easier to clean and aren’t as susceptible to damaging forces. This can mean fewer dental issues across your lifetime, saving you time and money.

6. Improved Overall Health

We’ve already discussed that reducing oral disease is one of the biggest health benefits of straight teeth. This doesn’t just apply to the mouth though. Our oral health is directly connected to our overall health.

The Washington Post recently published a piece on the ways oral health can affect your brain with one being an increased risk of dementia. This is the latest in a number of studies connecting inflammation and bacteria in the mouth with diseases in other areas of the body, including heart disease, diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis.

7. Stronger Social Connections

An assured smile can build stronger social connections. Research published in the journal PLOS ONE found that smiles, especially genuine smiles, are important social tokens and play a role in social decision-making and bonding.

8. Excellent First Impressions

In a perfect world, how you look wouldn’t matter. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. The appearance of your smile plays a starring role in the first impressions you make.

According to a study in the American Journal of Orthodontics & Dentofacial Orthopedics, people with ideal smiles are considered “more intelligent and have a greater chance of finding a job when compared to persons with non-ideal smiles.”

In a recent poll, 76% of respondents said a person’s smile is the number one physical trait that makes a first impression. Additionally, 68% of Americans believe people who smile are more trustworthy, confident and approachable.

Ready to experience the social and health benefits of straight teeth for yourself?

Now that you know orthodontic treatment is worth it, you might be wondering how to get straight teeth. We can help! Schedule a complimentary consultation at Richard Chan Orthodontics in Mill Creek, Monroe or Bothell, WA or Juneau, AK!

Dr. Chan will develop an accurate diagnosis and provide you with personalized treatment recommendations. Whether you choose braces or Invisalign, the outcome will be a beautiful, functional, healthy smile and all of the perks that come with it.

Girl Smiling Outdoors

Richard Chan Orthodontics Shares Fun Facts About Teeth Following National Orthodontic Health Month

By Dental Care, Orthodontics No Comments

Since last month was National Orthodontic Health Month, Seattle, WA-area and Juneau, AK orthodontist, Richard Chan Orthodontics, wants to continue keeping teeth top of mind by offering 10 fun facts about oral health and orthodontics this month.

1. It All Started in the 1700s

A French surgeon and dentist named Pierre Fauchard invented the bandeau, a metal strip bent like a horseshoe meant to expand the dental arch and straighten teeth.

2. And Really Kicked Off in the 1970s

About 200 years later, stainless steel became popular for contemporary braces because of its less expensive cost and increased flexibility over previous materials.

3. Teeth Can’t Repair Themselves

Enamel, the thin but hard outer shell of teeth, isn’t living tissue so it can’t heal itself.

4. Enamel is The Toughest

Yet, enamel is also the hardest material in the body, even harder than bone!

5. Teeth Naturally Want to Shift Back to Where They Started

Why is a retainer a must after braces or Invisalign? Teeth have a natural tendency to shift back to their original positions over time. A retainer prevents teeth from moving.

6. No Two Sets of Teeth Are Alike

Just like fingerprints, teeth are unique to each and every person. That’s why Dr. Richard Chan at his Bothell, Monroe, Mill Creek, WA, and Juneau, AK orthodontic offices delivers personalized treatment that addresses each patient’s specific orthodontic issues.

7. Saliva Is Necessary, And A Lot of It

A person can produce up to 730 liters of saliva per year. And it’s all for good use — saliva helps with tasting, chewing and digestion, reduces oral bacteria, has proteins and minerals that strengthen teeth, and prevents bad breath.

8. Straight Teeth Are Easier To Keep Clean

Well-aligned teeth have fewer nooks and crannies for plaque and food debris to hide. They’re easier to brush and floss effectively which means a reduced risk of tooth decay, cavities, and gum disease.

9. A Stunning Smile Boosts Confidence

As a Juneau, AK and Seattle-area expert orthodontist, Dr. Chan has seen countless patients step into a newfound confidence because of their new smile.

10. Straight Teeth Help Optimize Eating and Digestion

Crooked teeth and a bad bite can make biting, chewing and swallowing difficult. This can then affect proper digestion and overall health. In contrast, a straight smile offers optimum oral functioning.

Your Seattle-area Orthodontist Making Braces Accessible and Easy

American Board-certified orthodontist, Dr. Richard Chan, and his team strive to provide informed, stress-free braces and Invisalign treatment that works for every patient’s specific needs, lifestyle, and budget. And whether visiting the Bothell, Monroe, Mill Creek, WA, or Juneau, AK orthodontic office, patients are greeted by an award-winning, friendly team at a bright, modern office designed with patient comfort in mind.

Midline Misalignment

Midline Misalignment: What Causes it and How is it Corrected?

By Orthodontics No Comments

At Richard Chan Orthodontics, we’re all about helping patients achieve beautiful, functional smiles. One thing we look to correct? Midline misalignment. Midline what now?!? Let’s explain. 

Your dental midline is the vertical line between your upper front and lower front teeth and should align with the middle of your face. When this vertical line is off-center, you get midline misalignment. It’s an issue that’s more than cosmetic, it can contribute to your back bite not fitting together properly, in turn leading to issues with teeth grinding or chewing. Or it can cause uneven wear on teeth that can contribute to cavities or tooth damage. In short, midline misalignment can be a functional or oral health problem, not just an esthetic concern.


So What Causes Midline Shift In Teeth?

The causes of asymmetrical midline teeth vary. Here, Dr. Chan spells out the most common ones.

  1. Early Loss of Baby Teeth

Sometimes kids lose their baby teeth prematurely — maybe from tooth decay or dental trauma. When a gap is left and isn’t filled soon with an erupting adult tooth, teeth naturally want to shift and fill the space. This shifting can lead to the midline baby teeth — and later adult teeth — drifting off-center.

  1. Missing Adult Teeth

Speaking of adult teeth, missing adult teeth is another reason for what causes midline shift in teeth. Perhaps you’ve experienced losing adult teeth because of things like gum disease, tooth decay, or injury. Missing adult teeth can also be genetic. In any case, missing adult teeth leave spaces that remaining teeth move to fill, sometimes contributing to midline shift.

  1. Crowded Teeth

Dr. Chan and his team come across crowded teeth quite regularly. But how do crowded teeth affect midline teeth alignment? Well, when teeth grow too close together or shift into tight positions, this can push your midline teeth off-center or even overlap them.

  1. Jaw Misalignment

When it comes to your jaws and midline alignment, jaw misalignment like a crossbite, open bite, or underbite can prevent proper stacking of your top and bottom arches. Consequently, this can put your dental midline off-center. 

  1. Prolonged Infant Oral Habits

Prolonged infant habits like thumbsucking, pacifier use, or tongue thrust can be detrimental to a child’s oral development. If a 3- or 4-year-old child is still sucking their thumb or pacifier, or is habitually pushing at their upper front teeth with their tongue, these can put pressure on growing dental arches. The result? Protruding front teeth or misaligned dental arches which affect the dental midline.


How To Fix Off Center Midline Teeth

Now we come to some super important info: how to move the midline of teeth back to center. This is where your Bothell, Monroe, Mill Creek, WA and Juneau, AK orthodontist comes in! As a certified specialist in orthodontics, Dr. Richard Chan is an expert in modern orthodontic techniques with the goal of symmetrical, healthy, and stellar smiles. 

Braces: Together with Dr. Chan, you’ll decide which braces work best for your orthodontic issues, your lifestyle, and your budget. Whether you choose modern metal braces, clear ceramic braces, or self ligating braces, braces are a trusted go-to, especially for dental midline issues from jaw misalignment.

Invisalign: Clear aligners are appealing if you’re looking for a discreet and convenient option to fix minor midline misalignment. Here’s a few things to know about Invisalign if you’re interested!

Maxillary Expander: A palatal expander can be used on its own or prior to braces or Invisalign. An expander opens your upper dental arch to alleviate crowding, in turn helping with dental midline alignment.

Extractions: Removing teeth to fix midline misalignment is sometimes suggested if the cause is structural with the face or jaw. Dr. Chan typically suggests non-invasive treatments like braces, Invisalign or an expander though, with extractions for midline misalignment as a last option. Or he might suggest tooth extraction in combination with orthodontic treatment.


Getting A Symmetrical Smile In The Seattle-Area

Ready to address your midline misalignment? An award-winning team, Richard Chan Orthodontics can help — with state-of-the-art equipment and modern techniques that result in more comfortable and efficient orthodontics. 

Contact your trusted Seattle orthodontist. With offices in Bothell, Mill Creek, and Monroe, WA or Juneau, AK, it’s easy to get started on a symmetrical smile that looks and functions how you’ve always wanted.

Orthodontic Treatment?

Why Do My Teeth Feel Loose During Orthodontic Treatment?

By Invisalign, Orthodontics, Teen Orthodontics No Comments

So you just started orthodontic treatment and your teeth are starting to feel a little loose. Rest assured, this is completely normal and typically a sign that your teeth have started shifting toward their ideal positions. Seattle-area orthodontist Richard Chan Orthodontics wants you to feel confident in your braces or Invisalign® treatment so we’re here to talk about how your teeth feel and what it means.

So How Do Braces and Invisalign Straighten Teeth?

To understand why your teeth feel loose from braces and Invisalign, we’ll start by answering, “How do braces and Invisalign work?” Let’s turn to the science behind your teeth shifting — a process called “bone remodeling.”

Teeth are attached to your jawbone by your periodontal ligaments. Braces (and Invisalign) work to shift teeth using a continuous force that compresses these periodontal ligaments on one side and stretches the ligaments on the other side. Cells called osteoclasts break down the bone on the compressed side and cells called osteoblasts begin building bone on the stretched side that form around teeth and secure them in their new spots. 

Bone remodeling with orthodontic treatment is a continuous process that takes time, which is why your teeth can feel loose. Once your teeth have stopped shifting and sit in their final spots, your periodontal ligaments will tighten back up, securing your teeth in place with the help of an orthodontic retainer; you won’t feel like your teeth are loose anymore.

Braces and Invisalign rely on your body’s natural bone remodeling response. It actually happens in the rest of your body throughout your lifetime in an effort to maintain the structural integrity of your bones and optimum levels of calcium and phosphorus. The difference with orthodontic bone remodeling is that the process is guided by a precise treatment plan an expert orthodontist like Dr. Chan has designed to safely encourage the break down and build up of bone material. 

An Orthodontic Retainer Secures Your Smile

After your orthodontic appliance has done its job and your teeth are aligned into your new smile, Dr. Chan will recommend wearing a retainer. An orthodontic retainer is an essential part of the orthodontic process and custom-made for each patient. They come in removable or fixed options, however, many patients prefer the removable kind for ease of eating and oral hygiene.

At Richard Chan Orthodontics, we use our own 3D printer to create our patients’ removal clear retainers. Typically, you’ll wear your retainer full-time for the first month after treatment and then gradually transition to nighttime-only wear. This period is crucial for allowing the bone and soft oral tissues the time they need to adapt fully and sit securely in their new spots.

Without A Retainer After Invisalign or Braces, Teeth Want to Shift Back

“What?! Do teeth move after braces or Invisalign?” you ask. Well, teeth have a natural tendency to drift back to their original positions, especially in the time soon after active orthodontics are complete. You might even notice your teeth still feel a little loose from your braces or Invisalign before you move on to your retainer.

Diligent retainer wear is vital to preserving the hard work and investment you put into your smile results. By consistently wearing your retainer, you allow the bone and tissues to stabilize, ensuring your teeth remain straight and well-aligned for a lifetime.

Get Your Braces or Invisalign Questions Answered by A Washington and Alaska Orthodontist Who Cares

If you have any other questions about orthodontic treatment, Dr. Chan and his expert team are happy to help. Having won Seattle Met’s Top Dentist award for the ninth straight year, board-certified orthodontist, Dr. Richard Chan is well-regarded by colleagues for his expertise, high-tech approach, patient-centric care, and smile results. He also believes everyone deserves a beautiful, well-functioning smile and goes above and beyond to make orthodontics work for a variety of budgets

Looking for a Bothell, Mill Creek, Monroe, WA, or Juneau, AK orthodontist? Schedule an appointment to get your dream smile at Richard Chan Orthodontics.

6 Reasons to Start Orthodontic Treatment in Summer

6 Reasons to Start Orthodontic Treatment at Richard Chan Orthodontics This Summer

By Community, Dental Care, Invisalign, Orthodontics, Teen Orthodontics No Comments

We often think that fall is the best time to start new endeavors. But when it comes to starting braces or Invisalign, we think summer is an ideal time to start, especially for kids. Why? Here, the Richard Chan Orthodontics team shares 6 reasons to consider summer the best time for when to start orthodontic treatment.

  1. You’ll Have Routines Dialed-in By The Time School Starts 

Let’s be honest, whether braces treatment or the Invisalign® process, orthodontic treatment takes some getting used to. Summer’s slower, less scheduled days give you time to figure out the changes you need to make in your daily life because of your new braces or Invisalign. Come fall, you’ll have your routines down pat for appliance-friendly eating and excellent oral hygiene

  1. You Can Take Advantage of Summer’s Cold Treats to Soothe Discomfort

When you have braces or Invisalign, your teeth, gums, and jaws work hard to shift into their final positions. Experiencing a little oral pain or discomfort at times is part of your smile transformation. Cold, summer treats like fresh fruit smoothies, ice cream, or popsicles are a great way to soothe oral discomfort from braces or Invisalign treatment. Just remember to choose soft treats like ice cream without nuts or hard mix-ins if you have braces to avoid damaging them.

  1. Scheduling initial appointments is easier when you’re less busy

For many families, the school year can get pretty hectic. That’s why starting braces or Invisalign in the more relaxed season of summer is a great option. It can be less stressful and you can fit in your initial appointments without missing school, work, practices, or lessons.

  1. Save Money with Our Limited Time Braces or Invisalign Offer

This summer is prime time to start braces or Invisalign treatment because we’re offering affordable braces and Invisalign for as low as $129 per month. At Richard Chan Orthodontics, we’re all about making braces and Invisalign costs manageable for our patients because everyone deserves a healthy, functional, and beautiful smile.

  1. More Time To Feel Confident With Wearing Braces or Invisalign 

Braces have been around for a long time — and Invisalign started straightening smiles 25 years ago. So it’s fair to say that orthodontics isn’t so surprising anymore. That said, some patients — both adults and teens — appreciate some adjustment time before heading back into the full social demands of the fall. Summer offers prep time to help ease any initial self-consciousness and ensure a smoother social transition into the school year.

  1. Achieve Faster Progress and Results

Getting braces or Invisalign in the summer months can help you make significant progress right from the get-go. How? Less scheduling constraints and more mental space allows you to focus and stick to your treatment plan more diligently, like switching out your aligners at the right time or refreshing elastic bands as instructed. Paired with our use of innovative technology and techniques, you might find that a summer start contributes to more efficient and precise results.

Summer’s For Smiling With Richard Chan Orthodontics

If you’re ready to get Invisalign or braces this summer, Dr. Chan is your award-winning, Seattle-area and Juneau, AK orthodontist for high-quality orthodontic care and amazing outcomes. 

Contact us for an appointment this summer for Invisalign or braces at our Monroe, Bothell,  Mill Creek, WA or Juneau, AK office for personalized, affordable modern braces or Invisalign.

Invisalign Treatment

6 Things You Should Know Before Getting Invisalign

By Community, Dental Care, Invisalign, Orthodontics, Teen Orthodontics No Comments

Have you been thinking about getting Invisalign to straighten your smile? It’s definitely a great way to straighten and improve your teeth. In fact, 14 million people have experienced the benefits of Invisalign since it came on the market 25 years ago. But before you jump in with Invisalign treatment, Dr. Chan and the team at Richard Chan Orthodontics wants to share a few things you should know first about this clear aligner treatment. Here are 6 common things to think about when considering Invisalign.

  1. A Reputable Invisalign Doctor is Key

We’d argue that the most important step in the Invisalign process is finding a qualified and experienced Invisalign doctor. Look for an orthodontist who is certified by Invisalign and has a good reputation in your community. Not to toot our own horn here (okay, maybe a little) but our team recently won a SeattleMet Top Dentist Award for the ninth year in a row. Plus, Dr. Chan is a board certified orthodontist. So it’s safe to say getting Invisalign treatment with Dr. Chan will mean fantastic results!

  1. Eating is Easier with Invisalign vs. Braces

Invisalign offers several benefits over traditional braces but perhaps the biggest one? No food restrictions. You don’t have to change your eating habits to avoid foods that could break your appliance like you would with braces. Most orthodontists — including Dr. Chan — recommend you take your Invisalign trays out when you eat or when you drink anything other than water. 

You might even notice that you snack less during the Invisalign process. Since you need to keep your aligners in for at least 22 hours a day to ensure your teeth shift according to your treatment plan, your snacking game. It’s definitely a perk for improving your overall health in the long run.

  1. We Can Treat a Wide Range of Cases with Invisalign

A common question patients ask us is, “Am I a candidate for Invisalign?” These days, Invisalign is a good choice for many who want to improve their smile. In previous years, not everyone was a candidate for Invisalign treatment — it was typically best suited for patients with mild to moderate orthodontic issues, such as crooked or crowded teeth, gaps between teeth, and minor bite problems. But today, what can Invisalign fix? Well, in the hands of an experienced Invisalign doctor like Dr. Chan, even complex cases can be treated with Invisalign. 

Your Bothell, Monroe, Mill Creek, WA, and Juneau, AK orthodontist will determine if you are a good candidate for getting Invisalign. During your consultation, Dr. Chan will evaluate your teeth and gums, take X-rays of your teeth, and review your dental history to determine if Invisalign is right for you.

  1. Invisalign is Effective When You Stick to Your Treatment Plan

As we mentioned, getting Invisalign from an experienced orthodontist plays a big part in the success of your treatment. The other factor is you! Your aligners can only shift your teeth into place precisely and on schedule if you wear them according to your treatment plan.

As mentioned earlier, you should wear your Invisalign aligners for at least 22 hours a day, only taking them out to eat, drink anything other than water, brushing and flossing, or if you’re wearing a mouthguard when playing sports. Then make sure you always switch your trays to the next set as prescribed, and see Dr. Chan for your progress check-ins as scheduled.

  1. Keeping Your Clear Aligners Clean During Invisalign Treatment Will Keep Your Progress On Track

Good oral care is vital during Invisalign treatment. Why? Because conversely, oral health issues like cavities and gum disease can disrupt your orthodontic treatment, delaying your progress while you wait for fillings or gum disease treatment. To make sure your oral health is 100% while Invisalign straightens your teeth, make sure you:

  • Take out Invisalign when you eat or drink anything other than water
  • Brush your teeth before you put aligners back in
  • Stick to a thorough oral hygiene routine
  • Clean your clear aligners every day with a toothbrush (no toothpaste) and deep clean with Invisalign crystals halfway through the week 
  1. Losing Your Clear Aligners Can Delay the Invisalign Process

Super important: when your aligners aren’t in your mouth, store them in their case. It’s not uncommon for aligners to go missing because they’ve been put in a napkin or a cup and then forgotten. Losing a set of aligners can delay your treatment — you might lose a few days while the replacement set is being made, giving your teeth the chance to start regressing to their original spots. But we get it; life happens! If you do misplace a set, call the office and Dr. Chan will instruct you on what to do.

If you think you or your child might misplace your Invisalign often, we suggest weighing the practicality of Invisalign vs. braces for your lifestyle. For many adult orthodontic patients, keeping track of their Invisalign clear aligners is a breeze. But for younger patients, an active lifestyle might mean keeping track of aligners is a challenge. Some teens actually prefer braces anyway, because they can choose the color of the elastic ties to suit their personality, the seasons, or their mood.

Getting Invisalign with Your Seattle-area Orthodontist

Now that you know a few of the high points to think about when considering Invisalign treatment, come visit your expert Invisalign doctor in Bothell, Monroe, Mill Creek, WA, and Juneau, AK. Dr. Chan can help you answer the question, “Am I a candidate for Invisalign?” and if you are, we can help you move forward with clear aligners and get the perfect smile you’ve always wanted.

Contact Richard Chan Orthodontics for your free initial appointment to get started!


SeattleMet Top Dentist Award 2015-2023

Richard Chan Orthodontics Wins 2023 Seattle Met Top Dentist for 9th Straight Year

By Community, Dental Care, Invisalign, Orthodontics, Teen Orthodontics No Comments

It’s nice to be recognized for a job well done. And even better? Receiving recognition year after year. For the team at Richard Chan Orthodontics, 2023 marks nine years in a row winning a SeattleMet Top Dentist award.

What is the SeattleMet Top Dentist Award?

The SeattleMet Top Dentist award is an annual, peer-selected achievement. In other words, Dr. Richard Chan and his team have received recognition of their dental colleagues for outstanding work in orthodontics and patient care. 

Every year, SeattleMet partners with national survey company Top Dentists, which sends ballots to local, active dentists listed with the American Dental Association (ADA), dental academies and societies. These recipients in King, Snohomish, Kitsap, and Pierce counties can nominate peers within these organizations, as well as those who aren’t. 

What are the Nomination Criteria?

The magazine asks, “If you had a patient in need of a dentist, which dentist would you refer them to?” Presented with the names of nearby practitioners, each voting dentist considers:

  • Experience
  • Professional development
  • Adoption of new techniques and technologies
  • Physical outcomes

After responses are compiled, the magazine takes the names of the highest-rated nominees and cross-references each name with the Washington State Department of Health to check for a clean disciplinary record, active licensing, and good standing. Since 2015, Dr. Richard Chan Orthodontics has risen to the top, consistently earning a spot on the SeattleMet Top Dentist list.

What Makes Richard Chan Orthodontics Stand Out

Dr. Richard Chan and his team strive to provide informed, stress-free braces and Invisalign® treatment for patients of all ages — for a lifetime of healthy, functional teeth that look amazing, too. A tech-lover, Dr. Chan uses the latest orthodontic technology to straighten teeth safer, faster, and more comfortably. He offers beautiful outcomes with modern metal, ceramic, and self-ligating braces and is a 2022 Platinum+ Invisalign Provider, a designation for orthodontists with a high level of proficiency and experience with Invisalign. 

Dr. Chan’s bright and modern offices in Bothell, Monroe, or Mill Creek, WA, and Juneau, AK are designed with patient comfort in mind. 

About Dr. Richard Chan

Dr. Richard Chan understands that many people want a straight, functional smile but can’t afford it, but he believes that everyone deserves a healthy smile they’re proud to show off. So as a certified specialist in orthodontics and dentofacial orthopedics, Dr. Chan is on a mission to make high-quality orthodontic treatment work for every patient’s specific needs, lifestyle and budget

This Washington and Juneau, AK orthodontist is a board-certified member of the American Association of Orthodontists, the American Dental Association, and the Washington State Dental Association, and engages in continuing education to provide patients with leading-edge service. Whether you have misaligned teeth, a crossbite, overbite, or underbite, Dr. Chan can help you achieve a fantastic, new smile.

Black Triangles Between My Teeth

Will Orthodontic Treatment Cause Black Triangles Between My Teeth?

By Dental Care, Orthodontics No Comments

If you’ve been considering orthodontic treatment, you might have heard or read about the possibility of developing back triangles in your teeth after braces or Invisalign®. But what are black triangles? And does orthodontic treatment actually cause them? The team at Richard Chan Orthodontics will be covering everything you need to know.

What are Black Triangles Between Teeth?

Ideally, there is a piece of gum tissue, known as an interdental papilla (papillae plural), that extends from the gumline and sits between two teeth, firmly attaching to both. In the front of the mouth, the papillae are shaped like pyramids, or triangles. They keep the tooth roots safe and prevent food from getting stuck between the teeth and causing decay and cavities. 

When the papillae don’t project from the gum line and fill the space between the teeth, it creates a triangular void between the teeth and the gumline. This is what people sometimes refer to as a black triangle. 

In a study published in the European Journal of Prosthodontics and Restorative Dentistry, participants ranked black triangles between the teeth, technically called open gingival embrasures or gingival triangles, as the third most disliked smile aesthetic issue after cavities and crown margins.

While black triangles do compromise the appearance of your smile, it’s not merely a cosmetic problem. Depending on the size of the space, it can increase your risk of tooth decay and gum disease. It may also interfere with your ability to properly produce certain speech sounds. 

What Causes Black Triangles in Teeth?

According to a literature review in the British Dental Journal, there are a number of causes of black triangles in teeth and they often develop because of a mixture of factors, including:

  • The amount of space between teeth
    You need enough width between the teeth to facilitate blood flow to the papillae but not so much space that the tissue is stretched or unable to fill in the area.
  • Genetics
    Inherited traits like the natural shape and position of your tooth roots, as well as the distance between the jawbone and the first point of contact between two teeth can make you susceptible to black triangles.
    The shape of your teeth, which is also genetic, plays a role too. People with square or rectangular-shaped teeth tend to have better contact between teeth from top to bottom when the teeth are properly spaced. Triangular-shaped teeth, on the other hand, often meet closer to the chewing surfaces where they’re wider, but as the teeth narrow towards the gumline, a black space can occur.
  • Your age
    The risk increases with age and certain systemic diseases like osteoporosis.
  • Your gum biotype
    People with thin, scalloped gums are more likely to develop black triangles, because this gum biotype responds to trauma and inflammation by receding. A thick, flat gum biotype often means the gums have greater blood flow and are better able to withstand inflammation, which helps keep the papillae in place.
  • The presence of periodontal (gum) disease and gum recession
    As the gums recede, the papillae will also recede and can begin to lose attachment with the teeth, creating black triangles.
  • Diverging tooth roots
    This is when the tooth roots are spaced or angled in a way that creates space between the teeth near the gumline.
  • Misshapen dental restorations
    Crowns or other restorations that aren’t the correct size and shape can lead to a space between the teeth.
  • Poor oral habits
    Nail biting, excessive toothpick use, and aggressive flossing can damage the papillae and/or cause gum recession.

Do Braces and Invisalign Cause Black Triangles?

No, Invisalign and braces do not cause black triangles in between the teeth. There is a misconception that it can be a consequence of orthodontic treatment. But the truth is, when teeth are crowded, crooked, or overlapping, the black triangles aren’t visible. 

As your braces or Invisalign aligners straighten the teeth, black triangles can start to appear. This is simply because there isn’t enough gum tissue to fill in the space where the crowded or rotated teeth used to be. So if you have new black triangles in your teeth after Invisalign or braces it’s likely becuase orthodontic treatment revealed an existing issue. 

When you visit Richard Chan Orthodontics, we assess your teeth, gums, and bite before you start treatment. Dr. Richard Chan then creates a personalized treatment plan based on your unique dental and facial anatomy. He may take certain steps or coordinate with your dentist to minimize or prevent black triangles and create your ideal smile.

How Can I Prevent Black Triangles in My Teeth After Braces or Invisalign?

While you can’t do anything about genetics, your age, or your gum biotype, there are things you can control, including keeping your gums healthy to ward off recession. 

Black triangles, or open gingival embrasures, are frequently an early sign of gum disease. If Dr. Chan believes you have gum disease, you’ll need to have it treated prior to beginning orthodontic treatment.

Once you get braces or Invisalign, it’s important to maintain excellent oral hygiene. To keep gums healthy and reduce your risk of black triangles:

  • Brush your teeth with a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste in the morning and after all meals and snacks for two full minutes each time. If you have braces, pay extra attention to the tight areas around your brackets and the space between your brackets and gumline. Be sure to gently massage your gums while you brush as well to keep them stimulated and prevent swelling.
  • Floss at least once per day.
  • In addition to flossing with dental floss, you may want to consider using a water flosser too. This will help remove even more plaque and food debris and stimulate your gums. 
  • Ask Dr. Chan about including an antibacterial mouthwash into your daily routine. He can recommend a rinse that fights plaque and boosts gum health if needed. 
  • Avoid biting your nails or using toothpicks excessively. When you floss, be gentle with your gums. 
  • Continue to see your general dentist for routine dental exams and cleanings once every six months during your braces or Invisalign treatment. 

How to Fix Black Triangles in Teeth

If you do notice black triangles, there are solutions. The best treatment for you will depend on the underlying cause and your individual needs. Dr. Chan and/or your dentist can make personalized recommendations for how to fix black triangles in your teeth in a way that will promote good oral health. 

Options could include:

  • Orthodontic treatment. In some cases, when gum disease isn’t the culprit, orthodontic treatment can actually fix black triangles. In these instances, once the teeth are properly aligned, the unwanted voids will be eliminated. Plus, straight teeth are easier to keep clean, which reduces your risk of gum disease and recession going forward.
  • Interproximal reduction. If the shape of your teeth is behind black triangles, this technique can be used to gently file down enamel. Once your teeth are reshaped, we can use braces or Invisalign to shift them into place. They’ll then be flush against one another and the black triangles will disappear.
  • Cosmetic dentistry. A dentist can enhance a tooth, or teeth, with bonding materials to eliminate or reduce black triangles. Dental crowns, veneers, and recontouring procedures could also be possibilities.
  • Hyaluronic acid. Similar to cosmetic facial fillers, hyaluronic acid can also be injected into the gum tissue to add volume and encourage the tissue to fill in the space between the teeth.
  • Grafting or tissue engineering. For severe gum recession or disease, your dentist might recommend attempting to regrow gum tissue. This can be achieved through procedures such as gum grafting and tissue engineering.
  • Other options. There are other options as well that you may want to discuss with your dentist. These can include using pink restorations or gingival veneers to hide the black triangles. 

Say Goodbye to Black Triangles

Want to find out if orthodontic treatment can fix black triangles between your teeth? Or are you looking for an experienced orthodontist who can create a treatment plan that helps you avoid them? Richard Chan Orthodontics has you covered! Schedule a visit with our Juneau, AK and Bothell, Monroe, and Mill Creek, WA orthodontist today.

Rapid Palatal Expanders

Everything Parents Should Know About Rapid Palatal Expanders

By Orthodontics No Comments

Braces and Invisalign® Teen are both really effective orthodontic treatments. But they can’t always do the job on their own. When a patient has a small or narrow upper jaw, sometimes, an appliance called a rapid palatal expander is needed for skeletal correction, either before or during comprehensive treatment. 

While there are ways to expand an adult’s upper jaw, a rapid palate expander is generally used for kids and teens who are still growing. Since their skeleton is developing and flexible, guiding jaw growth is much easier. 

In this post, the experts at Richard Chan Orthodontics will be sharing everything parents need to know about treatment with an orthodontic expander. 

Rapid Palatal ExpanderWhat is a Rapid Palatal Expander?

A rapid palatal expander (RPE) is a common orthodontic appliance used in phase 1 orthodontic treatment or comprehensive treatment with expansion. Though there are removable palatal expanders, fixed expanders, meaning the appliance stays in place until expansion is complete, are often preferable for younger patients. 

The maxilla (the bone of the upper jaw) is made up of two pieces that don’t fuse together until the mid-teenage years. A palatal expander uses gentle pressure to separate the pieces and widen the palate. 

This can help make room for all of the permanent teeth to fit properly and fixes discrepancies between the upper and lower jaw to create an ideal bite (the way the top and bottom teeth come together). 

How Does an Orthodontic Expander Work?

The device is secured around the back teeth and has two halves that fit against the roof of the mouth. The halves are joined together with a screw at the center. 

You or your child will activate the expander by placing a key in the screw and turning it. Each turn creates tension that exerts gentle pressure on the midline suture, the point where the two maxillary bones meet, and the molars. This pressure pushes the maxillary bones apart and widens the jaw. 

Once your child reaches the prescribed amount of expansion, the appliance will stay in place for several months so new bone can form between the halves of the maxilla, making the expansion permanent. 

As we said above, an expander might be used during early orthodontic treatment before a child has all of their permanent teeth. Normally, however, the expander is used during a comprehensive treatment plan, where the child wears an expander for about six months before we remove it. Immediately after the expansion is completed, orthodontic treatment with braces or Invisalign Teen is used to fine tune the bite and straighten the teeth. 

At Richard Chan Orthodontics, we always treat kids conservatively. And, while there are cases where two phases of treatment are needed, more often than not, we can achieve the same results with a single phase of treatment. Therefore, Dr. Chan may recommend combining an expander with braces. When the goals for expansion are achieved, he’ll take the expander out and your child will continue with braces

When is a Rapid Palate Expander Needed?

There are other instances where an expander could be needed, such as certain cases of an underbite, but these are the most common reasons kids and teens require maxillary expansion:

A Crossbite 

A crossbite is when some of the bottom teeth sit outside of the top teeth. A crossbite can be anterior (involving front teeth) or posterior (involving teeth in the back). Often, a posterior crossbite that’s skeletal in nature is due to the upper jaw being too narrow in relation to the lower jaw. 

When that’s the case, expansion could be the best course of action. If not treated, patients with a posterior crossbite can compensate by shifting their jaw to the side, causing permanent changes in their facial structure. Crossbites can also result in jaw and TMJ pain and worn teeth. 

Airway Issues

Breathing through the nose helps the lungs absorb oxygen, filters out impurities, adds moisture to the air, and even plays an essential role in kids’ growth. When nasal breathing isn’t possible and kids resort to mouth breathing, it has a negative impact on the development of their jaw and facial structures and can lead to sleep-disordered breathing, which includes obstructive sleep apnea. 

Upper expansion widens the nasal floor (the palate is the floor of the nose), makes more room for the tongue and permanent teeth, and helps open the airway. This can enable kids to breathe easier, prevent or reduce sleep-disordered breathing and the associated side effects, and stop mouth breathing from impacting their appearance and health as an adult. 

Severe Crowding

Crowding occurs when the jaw is too small to fit all of the permanent teeth. Teeth might twist, overlap, or even become impacted (stuck beneath the bone). Crowded, crooked teeth are harder to clean, which increases the risk of tooth decay and gum disease. Crowding can also cause uneven wear and interfere with function. 

By widening the upper jaw with an expander, the teeth will have enough space and extractions can be avoided. Expansion may also create room for impacted teeth (commonly the canine teeth) to erupt without needing oral surgical procedures or extractions.

How Long Does Expansion Take?

The actual expansion only takes a few weeks. But the expander needs to stay in place for a while longer to give new bone time to form in the space between the maxillary bones. This is what stabilizes the expansion. On average, patients wear an expander for about six months. 

Does a Rapid Palatal Expander Hurt?

We know, the idea of palate expansion does seem a little intense. But, because the maxillary bones in kids and teens aren’t fused together, manipulating them isn’t painful and only a small amount of tension is needed to shift them apart. 

That said, while your child won’t feel severe pain from a rapid palatal expander, they may have mild soreness and pressure after turning the key, particularly during the first several days. 

To keep them comfortable, have them stick with a liquid diet (soup, smoothies, etc.) for the first day and then soft foods for a couple of days to a week. It’s also a good idea to activate the expander at night, so by the time your child wakes up, most of the pressure is gone. 

Are There Other Side Effects From an Expander?

Chewing and speaking can feel weird at first. Within a few days, your child or teen will get used to having the expander in their mouth and their ability to chew and speak will return to normal. 

If you notice a space forming between your child’s front teeth, have no fear! This is completely normal and a sign that the expander is working and their jaw is widening. We’ll close the gap with braces or Invisalign.

How to Adjust an Expander

Dr. Chan will show you and your child how to adjust an expander. Sometimes it can take doing it yourself a few times to feel confident, but, we promise, it’s simple. Here’s how to activate the expander:

  • Tip the head back. 
  • Have someone help shine a light into the mouth so you can see better.
  • Put the key Dr. Chan gave you into the hole at the front center of the appliance.
  • Push the key toward the back of the mouth until it stops and you can see the next hole.
  • Carefully remove the key from the mouth. You should be able to clearly see the new hole for the next turn.

Depending on your child’s age, Dr. Chan may recommend either two turns per day (usually for older children/teenagers), or one turn every other day (usually for younger children). He will inform you how often and how many turns total. 

What Happens if You Turn an Expander Too Much?

Patients are sometimes curious about what happens if you turn your expander too much. Turning the expander more than prescribed will compromise the results and cause more discomfort. It will not speed up treatment. 

What if My Child Forgets to Activate Their Expander?

If your child forgets to activate their expander, do not do two turns the next time. Keep going with one turn per time, and add the missed turn to the end. While missing one turn isn’t a huge deal, be sure to keep in mind that adjusting the expander according to Dr. Chan’s directions will keep your child’s treatment plan on schedule. 

How to Take Care of an Expander

Orthodontic appliances give food debris and plaque more places to hide. So, when wearing an expander, have your child or teen brush their teeth in the morning, after meals and snacks, and before bed. They should continue flossing once daily too. 

Kids will want to gently brush their expander, including the screw and bars, when they brush their teeth. If they’re at school or out somewhere and forget their toothbrush, they can swish with water to keep the appliance clean until they can brush again. 

As for eating with an expander, the food restrictions are similar to those kids have with braces. Avoid anything really hard, chewy, or sticky like whole, raw apples, caramels, hard pizza crust, gum, and licorice.

What are the Benefits of Expansion?

When a rapid palatal expander is necessary, the benefits are significant. Expansion can:

  • Help kids and teens avoid the need for corrective jaw surgery
  • Prevent the need for tooth extractions
  • Open the airway and encourage nasal breathing 
  • Guide growth to correct a crossbite, crowding, and other skeletal concerns
  • Create a wider, more aesthetically pleasing smile
  • Make room for impacted teeth to erupt on their own

Schedule a complimentary consultation at Richard Chan Orthodontics in Bothell, Monroe, and Mill Creek, WA or Juneau, AK to get personalized treatment recommendations for your child or teenager. If a rapid palate expander is needed, Dr. Chan will walk you through his diagnosis, the process, and what to expect, so you feel fully informed about your child’s smile journey.

8 Ways to Celebrate Getting Your Braces Off in Juneau, AK

8 Ways to Celebrate Getting Your Braces Off in Juneau, AK

By Community, Orthodontics No Comments

 Getting your braces off or finishing Invisalign® treatment is a big deal! After committing to taking care of your teeth and your appliance, you’ll have a fantastic smile to show for your efforts. 

Of course, if you’re a patient at Richard Chan Orthodontics, we’ll make you feel special when your treatment is complete. But we also think it’s a great idea to mark the occasion with your friends and family too. 

Not sure how to celebrate getting your braces off? Our Juneau, AK orthodontist is sharing eight fun ideas!

1. Enjoy Some Braces Un-Friendly Foods 

As you’re well aware, there are certain foods to avoid with braces, including anything really hard, chewy or sticky, such as popcorn, gum, licorice, hard candy, nuts, caramel and toffee. When your braces are removed, go ahead and indulge in the food you missed during treatment (in moderation, of course). Here are a few places to get treats in Juneau:

  •  Alaskan Fudge Company – 195 S. Franklin St., Juneau, AK – Try the delicious, homemade fudge, cashew brittle or chocolate covered pecans without worrying about breaking a braces bracket. 
  •  Coppa – Get a baked good or grab a pint of ice cream since all flavors are back on the menu!
  •  Zerelda’s Bistro – 9106 Mendenhall Mall Rd, Ste B, Juneau, AK – Zerelda’s freshly baked desserts are perfect for celebrating the end of orthodontic treatment. 
  • Alaskan Sweet Thing’s – Treat yourself to some candy or their gourmet popcorn. You can order online or find the popcorn and sweets in these Alaskan retail stores

2. Go Out for a Celebratory Meal 

Speaking of food, go out to eat or get some takeout from a Juneau restaurant. How exciting will it be to not worry about what you can eat on the menu or have to take your Invisalign aligners out before your meal? Try:

3. Whiten Your Teeth     

When your braces come off or you remove your last Invisalign tray, round out your smile makeover with whitening treatment. While over-the-counter products may get you a few shades brighter, professional whitening with your dentist will give you much more dramatic results for the straight, white teeth of your dreams. 

4. Do a Photoshoot     

Whether you have a friend take pictures or you hire a professional photographer, you’ll want to capture your brand-new smile. 

5. Throw a Party

Throw a braces off party to show off your results. Be sure to serve some of the things you couldn’t eat with braces. 

6. Go on an Adventure

After finishing Invisalign or braces treatment, you deserve a daycation. Play tourist in Juneau for a day and visit some of your favorite spots, eat amazing food and take part in fun activities (we have a round-up of things to do in Juneau in the winter, here). Alaska.org also has some excellent recommendations

7. Highlight Your Smile

Reward yourself with something that complements or highlights your healthy, beautiful smile. Get a facial at a Juneau spa or head to a barbershop or salon for a fresh haircut. Book a visit at:

8. Laugh and Smile! 

If you felt self-conscious about your smile before braces or Invisalign, make up for lost time by finding as many reasons to laugh and smile as possible. A good starting point? Catch a comedy at Goldtown Theater or Glacier Cinema

Ready for a Smile You’ll Want to Celebrate?

Now that you know how to celebrate getting your braces off, we hope you end your smile journey on a high note.

If you haven’t started treatment yet, schedule a complimentary consultation with our Juneau orthodontist, Dr. Richard Chan, today!